May 14, 2008
Desert Winds Adventure Race Race Report
Dart-Nuun-Gregory/Dart-Nuun Grab the Win
Where to begin…
Desert Winds Adventure race is a race that takes place about an hour from Las Vegas on a huge lake called Lake Mead. This lake was created because of the Hoover Dam. This race is truly a desert race. There is nothing but desert for miles on end around this area. The terrain is harsh, lots of canyons, rock, wind, prickly plants, and hot hot sun. This was my first time venturing into the area and I was blown away by its beauty and its harshness. Robert and Druce Finlay from Kayak Lake Mead put on a most wonderful race with difficult navigational twists, tough running and interesting coasteering. The race had 27 checkpoints in total but only 3 of them were mandatory providing a chance for beginner and elite teams to race together. The disciplines included trekking/kayaking/”swimming” and we had 26 hours to complete as many checkpoints as possible.
I raced with team Dart-Nuun-Gregory (Sean Clancy, Glenn Rogers and Ryan VG). I had met these great guys at previous races but have never trained or raced with them. WOW, if you want three quality, athletic, hilarious, genuine guys these guys are it.
This was my first trip to Vegas and surrounding areas and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I was blown away by the vastness of the area. In order to save funds (adventure racing is one expensive hobby) I bused down to Seattle Thursday evening, stayed with RVG at his place in Seattle and flew out to Vegas Friday morning. I had about 3 hours to kill before Glenn and Ryan were to arrive so I decided to get a head start at getting my body used to the heat. I found some palm trees outside of the airport, and set up a slackline, did some yoga and read in the shade. It was a great way to spend my first 3 hours in the heat. We eventually made our way to Temple Bar where we met some other racers and set up camp, organized gear, ate and relaxed.
Race Start 10am
Saturday morning after a little bit of a faf we headed down, got our boats ready, and attended the pre-race briefing which lasted about 5 minutes. Nect thing I know we are off running and swimming to get to our maps for leg 1. We managed to reach the maps first. Glenn and Ryan were on it and we were off to look for our first check point. We searched and searched and couldn’t find it thinking we were in the wrong saddle then back until it seemed like most of the field was in the saddle looking for this checkpoint. After awhile we just let it go and were off running…we swam to an island; Robert was there, we told him about the check point and later learned that a burrow nibbled it away. Who would have thought? The rest of leg 1 included swimming and running, getting checkpoints on islands and underwater. We used these fun inflatable sandals to rest our feet throughout the swimming section and they happen to work out great! It was interesting that the water temperature was so cold considering the air temperature was so hot. We reached the end of Leg 1 in first and on fire.
We were off on the kayaks and onto leg 2. We were doing really well: kayaking well and hitting the checkpoints on target. We ran through and over, large beautiful canyons, down steep dried out river beds, through dense prickly plants and landed our kayaks in some deep slippery mud. Our route choice on the second part of leg 2 was probably not ideal but we did well all things considered. I was feeling awesome despite a mild ankle twist. We finished off leg 2 at about 3am and took off for Leg 3 not long after.
We were off on our kayaks again, we had some trouble finding that first checkpoint (it was dark and there were a ton of sneaky coves in the area). Needless to say we eventually found it once the light starting rising and we were off for our last big trek. We were racing hard against the other Dart-Nuun team the entire race. We were in front, then they bounced back and got ahead heading into Leg 3 but we managed to find that first checkpoint ahead of them and were back infront. About half way through the last large trek they passed us again (we miss calculated the checkpoint). We scrambled to catch up to them again. Both teams decided to be as efficient as possible and grab the last couple of checkpoints together and head in for the tie. It was great to really enjoy the last part of the course as a big group. We headed into the finish line all together with smiles on our faces.
I felt great throughout the race and afterwards. I had a few hours to spare until my whirlwind of a flight and bus back to Vancouver. I managed to walk down the strip and try and take in what Vegas had to offer until I literally was starting to fall asleep on my feet. I escaped to the airport where I could grab an hour nap before my flight to Seattle.
What a weekend…what a race. Thank you Robert and Druce, both Dart-Nuun teams and everyone who supports me throughout everything. Nothing is impossible…you just have to live with passion.
Live, Love, Laugh,…DREAM!